Dartmouth vs. Vanderbilt: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students talking while walking in the campus.

Dartmouth vs. Vanderbilt: Which College is Right for You?

Choosing the right college is a monumental decision, one that shapes the trajectory of your entire future. When weighing up your options, it’s important to consider every aspect of each school you’re considering to make an informed decision. Two colleges you might be considering – Dartmouth vs. Vanderbilt – are both highly respected institutions, but which one is the best fit for you?

Read on to learn everything you need about these two exceptional colleges.

Location and Campus: Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

The location and campus of a college are crucial factors when deciding where to pursue your undergraduate degree. Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, and boasts a sprawling campus set in the beautiful Upper Valley. The area is rural, and students can enjoy plenty of natural beauty, including the nearby White Mountains.

In contrast, Vanderbilt is located in the bustling city of Nashville, Tennessee, making it an excellent option for students who want to experience a lively metropolitan area with a thriving social scene and diverse nightlife.

Dartmouth’s campus is spread over 269 acres and features stunning Gothic architecture and classic Ivy League charm. The campus is home to many historical buildings alongside state-of-the-art facilities, including the recently built Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, which is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience New Hampshire’s stunning natural scenery.

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, has a sprawling campus that covers 333 acres and features impressive modern architecture and plenty of green space. Vanderbilt’s campus boasts a wide range of architectural styles, from neo-Gothic to contemporary designs, creating a diverse and welcoming academic environment.

Aside from the location and campus, another important factor to consider when choosing between Dartmouth and Vanderbilt is the academic programs offered. Dartmouth is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, with a focus on undergraduate education and small class sizes.

Back view of students walking in the campus.

The college offers over 40 majors, including popular programs in economics, engineering, and computer science. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is a research university that offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across ten schools and colleges. The university is particularly well-known for its programs in medicine, law, and business.

Another key difference between Dartmouth and Vanderbilt is the student body. Dartmouth has a smaller student population of around 6,500, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1. The college is known for its tight-knit community and a strong sense of school spirit, with a range of student-led organizations and activities.

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, has a larger student population of around 13,000, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. The university is known for its diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries and a range of cultural and social organizations to get involved in.

Academics: Comparing Programs and Majors at Dartmouth and Vanderbilt

When it comes to academics, both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt, offer excellent programs and majors across a wide range of fields. Dartmouth offers a liberal arts education with a strong focus on undergraduate teaching, providing students with a wide range of courses in over 40 departments.

Vanderbilt also offers a wide range of undergraduate programs and majors focusing on the liberal arts and sciences, as well as numerous research opportunities for undergraduates.

Dartmouth is known for its strong programs in the humanities and social sciences, with standout departments in government, economics, and history.

Students at Dartmouth can also participate in an innovative first-year program called the Dartmouth Outing Club, which gives freshmen a chance to experience the great outdoors and engage in worthwhile leadership activities.

Vanderbilt is renowned for its strong engineering, law, and business programs and offers numerous research opportunities for students in a wide range of fields.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt offer unique study abroad programs that allow students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives. Dartmouth’s Off-Campus Programs offer students the opportunity to study in over 40 countries, with programs ranging from language immersion to research-focused experiences.

Vanderbilt’s Global Education Office offers over 100 study abroad programs in more than 50 countries, with options for semester-long programs, summer programs, and faculty-led trips. These study abroad programs provide students with the opportunity to explore new cultures, learn new languages, and gain valuable skills that will benefit them in their future careers.

Student Life: Social Scene, Extracurriculars, and Overall Experience at Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

The social scene and extracurricular activities at a college play a significant role in determining student life satisfaction. Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt offer a vibrant campus life, characterized by an active social scene.

Dartmouth’s campus culture is heavily influenced by its location in rural New Hampshire, with a strong focus on outdoor recreation, such as skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, a lively city that’s famous for its music scene and other entertainment options.

Dartmouth is unique in offering a “house system” that divides students into smaller residential communities, providing a sense of belonging and fostering a strong culture of collaboration and friendship.

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, offers a wide range of student organizations and clubs focused on various interests such as politics, the arts, athletics, and community service. Both colleges encourage students to explore their interests, take on leadership positions, and pursue extracurricular activities that enhance their overall college experience.

Another aspect that sets Dartmouth apart from Vanderbilt is its emphasis on undergraduate research. Dartmouth offers numerous opportunities for students to engage in research projects with faculty members, which can lead to publications and presentations at national conferences.

This hands-on experience allows students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world problems and gain valuable skills that can benefit them in their future careers. Vanderbilt also offers research opportunities, but they are more focused on graduate students and faculty members.

Campus Housing: Living Options at Dartmouth vs. Vanderbilt

Living on campus can be a significant aspect of college life, affecting the overall experience and social scene. Dartmouth offers a unique housing system, where students live in residential communities known as “houses,” which are divided into two clusters – East Wheelock and West House communities.

View of young woman sitting on the boxes of her dorm room.

Each house has a faculty director who lives on-site, creating a welcoming and supportive living environment. Vanderbilt offers a variety of housing options, from traditional residence halls to apartments, townhouses, and suites. The university ensures that every student has the opportunity to find a housing option that meets their specific needs and preferences.

It is worth noting that while Dartmouth’s housing system is unique, it can also be competitive. Students are randomly assigned to a house during their freshman year, but they have the opportunity to apply for a different house during their sophomore year.

However, the process is highly selective, and not all students are guaranteed a spot in their desired house. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, offers a more flexible housing system, allowing students to switch housing options throughout their college careers. This can be particularly beneficial for students who may have changing needs or preferences as they progress through college.

Athletic Programs: Comparing Sports Teams and Facilities at Dartmouth and Vanderbilt

Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt are well-known for their strong athletic programs, with dedicated teams, facilities, and support staff. Dartmouth is a member of the Ivy League and has a long-standing tradition of excellence in sports.

The college offers a wide range of varsity sports, including football, ice hockey, basketball, and others. The Dartmouth Big Green carries out its athletic activities in top-of-the-line facilities that cater to both indoor and outdoor sports, such as the Boss Tennis Center, the Alumni Gymnasium, and the Memorial Field.

Vanderbilt, an NCAA Division I member, is a well-rounded athletic institution that competes in various sports. The university’s athletic program has experienced significant success in recent years, with Vanderbilt’s baseball team winning the College World Series in 2019.

Additionally, the university’s athletic facilities are top-notch, boasting state-of-the-art amenities designed to foster high-quality athletic performance.

One of the unique aspects of Dartmouth’s athletic program is its emphasis on outdoor sports. The college is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, which provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and kayaking.

As a result, Dartmouth has a strong tradition of excellence in outdoor sports, including cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, and rowing. The college’s athletic facilities reflect this emphasis on outdoor sports, with the Dartmouth Skiway and the Connecticut River providing ideal locations for skiing and rowing, respectively.

On the other hand, Vanderbilt’s athletic program has a strong focus on community engagement and service. The university’s student-athletes are encouraged to participate in community service projects and engage with the local Nashville community.

Vanderbilt’s athletic department also partners with local organizations to provide opportunities for underprivileged youth to participate in sports. This emphasis on community engagement has helped to foster a strong sense of community within Vanderbilt’s athletic program and has contributed to the university’s success both on and off the field.

Admissions Process: Requirements and Acceptance Rates for Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

When considering Dartmouth vs. Vanderbilt, it’s important to understand their respective admissions requirements and acceptance rates. Both colleges are highly selective and receive a large number of qualified applicants every year.

Happy students walking together.

Dartmouth’s acceptance rate for incoming freshmen in 2020 was 8.8%, while Vanderbilt accepted 9.7% of its applicants. To get accepted into either college, you’ll need a rigorous academic background, impressive test scores, and a well-crafted application.

However, there are some differences in the admissions process between Dartmouth and Vanderbilt. Dartmouth places a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and community involvement, while Vanderbilt values leadership and service.

Additionally, Dartmouth requires all applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, while Vanderbilt offers a test-optional policy for applicants.

It’s also important to note that both colleges have holistic admissions processes, considering various factors beyond grades and test scores. This includes essays, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated interest in the college. Therefore, showcasing your unique strengths and experiences in your application is important to increase your chances of acceptance.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Comparison for Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

The cost of attending college is a significant factor for many students when making their decision. Dartmouth and Vanderbilt are both expensive institutions, but they are comparable to other elite colleges in the United States.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, and room and board, was approximately $78,395 at Dartmouth and $76,344 at Vanderbilt. Fortunately, both colleges offer generous financial aid packages to help students afford their education.

Dartmouth meets 100% of demonstrated financial needs of admitted students, while Vanderbilt offers financial aid to meet the full demonstrated financial need of students who qualify.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance may vary depending on individual circumstances, such as the student’s residency status, major, and extracurricular activities.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt offer various scholarships and grants to students based on academic merit, athletic ability, and other criteria. It is recommended that students research and apply for these opportunities to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses further.

Alumni Network: Post-Graduate Opportunities and Professional Connections at Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

When you graduate, you’ll want to ensure that you have strong alumni connections and a robust alumni network to help you achieve your post-graduate goals. Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt have active and engaged alumni networks worldwide, with alumni working in various industries and fields.

Dartmouth alumni are known for being tightly knit, supportive, and eager to provide mentorship and resources to current students and recent graduates. Vanderbilt alumni are also deeply engaged with their alma mater, with many forming lifelong connections and offering career advice and support to new graduates.

However, there are some differences between the alumni networks at Dartmouth and Vanderbilt. Dartmouth’s alumni network is known for its strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with many alumni starting their own successful businesses and ventures.

On the other hand, Vanderbilt’s alumni network has a strong presence in the healthcare industry, with many alumni working in hospitals, research institutions, and healthcare startups. Depending on your career goals and interests, one alumni network may be more beneficial for you than the other.

Rankings and Reputation: Where Do Dartmouth and Vanderbilt Stand in National Rankings?

Rankings and reputation are crucial considerations when choosing a college, and both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt rank highly in national college rankings. Dartmouth ranks at No. #13 in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings of national liberal arts colleges, while Vanderbilt is ranked at No. #14 in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings of national universities.

Both colleges are highly respected institutions with a strong academic reputation, ensuring that your degree from either institution carries weight and prestige.

However, rankings and reputation are not the only factors to consider when choosing a college. It is important also to consider the location, campus culture, extracurricular activities, and available resources.

Dartmouth, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, offers a picturesque campus with a strong focus on undergraduate education and a vibrant outdoor culture. Vanderbilt, located in Nashville, Tennessee, offers a bustling urban campus with a strong emphasis on research and a diverse student body.

Both colleges offer unique experiences and opportunities, so it is important to consider all factors when making your decision.

Diversity & Inclusion: How Do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Compare Between the Two Colleges?

Group of students walking in the campus.

Increasingly, students are prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion when choosing a college. Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt have taken significant steps toward creating a more equitable and inclusive campus.

Dartmouth has an active diversity office, offering numerous resources and programs for underrepresented groups. The college has also taken steps to increase the diversity of its student body and faculty in recent years.

Vanderbilt has an Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, leading the university’s efforts toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. Vanderbilt also offers a diversity and inclusion certificate program available to students, staff, and faculty, which provides a comprehensive roadmap of perspectives, skills, and strategies in diversity and inclusion work.

Despite the similarities in their efforts toward diversity and inclusion, there are some differences between the two colleges. For example, Dartmouth has a Native American Program that provides support and resources for Native American students, while Vanderbilt does not have a similar program.

On the other hand, Vanderbilt has a Women’s Center that offers resources and support for women on campus, while Dartmouth does not have a dedicated center for women.

Another difference between the two colleges is their approach to diversity in their curriculum. Dartmouth requires all students to take a “Diversity and Inclusion” course, which exposes students to different perspectives and experiences.

On the other hand, Vanderbilt does not have a similar requirement but offers a wide range of courses that explore issues of diversity and inclusion from different angles.

Career Services: Job Placement Rates, Internship Opportunities, and Career Resources at Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

Career services and job placement support are crucial factors when choosing a college. Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt offer robust career services, including job placement assistance, internship opportunities, and career counseling.

Dartmouth has a strong focus on preparing students for careers in finance, consulting, and technology and offers targeted programming to help students achieve their career goals. Vanderbilt has a thriving career center and offers a number of programs to help students explore their career interests and make informed career decisions.

Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management is particularly renowned for providing students with top-tier business education and career placement services.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt have strong alumni networks that provide valuable connections and resources for students seeking employment opportunities. Dartmouth’s alumni network is particularly strong in the fields of finance and consulting, with many alumni holding leadership positions in top firms.

Vanderbilt’s alumni network is diverse and includes successful professionals in a variety of industries, providing students with a wide range of career paths to explore. Both schools also offer career fairs and networking events, giving students the chance to connect with potential employers and learn more about different industries.

Faculty & Research Opportunities: Comparing Teaching Styles, Research Facilities, and Faculty Expertise at Dartmouth vs Vanderbilt

Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt have highly qualified and experienced faculty dedicated to providing students with a high-quality academic experience. Dartmouth prides itself on having a low student-to-faculty ratio, with a focus on undergraduate teaching excellence.

The college also offers numerous research opportunities for undergraduates, with faculty members actively conducting research in a wide range of fields. Vanderbilt also has a strong teaching faculty, and students benefit from state-of-the-art research facilities and opportunities.

Student Success: Outcomes Data for Graduation Rates, Student Retention Rates, and Career Earnings After Graduation for Both Colleges

When it comes to college success, we want to make sure that students are meeting their goals and thriving after graduation. Both Dartmouth and Vanderbilt have outstanding student success outcomes, including high graduation rates, strong student retention rates, and high job placement and median earning rates after graduation.

In 2020, Dartmouth had a 97% freshman retention rate and a 90% four-year graduation rate. Vanderbilt had a 97% freshman retention rate and an 88% four-year graduation rate. Furthermore, both colleges have strong post-graduate outcomes, with successful alumni working in a wide range of fields and industries.

Final Verdict: Which College is the Best Fit for You? A Comprehensive Analysis of All Factors Considered

View of a man using a laptop.

After an exhaustive review of the factors that differentiate Dartmouth and Vanderbilt, it’s clear that both institutions offer excellent opportunities for undergraduate study. While Dartmouth is known for its strong humanities and social sciences programs, Vanderbilt is renowned for its engineering, law, and business programs.

Dartmouth’s location offers exceptional natural beauty, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, while Vanderbilt’s location provides a lively city environment with entertainment options. Both colleges have strong athletic programs, excellent career services, and outstanding outcomes data.

The best-fit college for you depends on what you value most and your long-term academic and career goals. If you’re interested in outdoor recreation, smaller class sizes, and a strong liberal arts education, Dartmouth might be the better fit for you.

If you’re invested in pursuing business, law, or engineering programs and would thrive in a vibrant city environment, Vanderbilt could be the ideal fit. Ultimately, the decision is yours, and with this comprehensive analysis of both colleges, we hope you’ll make an informed decision that will suit your interests, values, and aspirations.


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